Two renditions of “The Nutcracker,” Handel’s “Messiah” and “Alice in Panto-Land”

Madison features joyous music, comedy Dec. 19-22
Two renditions of “The Nutcracker,” Handel’s “Messiah” and “Alice in Panto-Land”
Photography by Darren Lee
Clara snuggles her beloved nutcracker in

Madison’s finest bring holiday music, dance and theater to multiple stages this weekend. The musical offerings along include jazz, classical and samba.

If you’re more in the mood for secular comedy, you’ll find much to laugh about with Jackie Kashian at Comedy on State and at a performance of “Alice in Panto-Land,” a goofy fusing of the mythical worlds of Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan.


“The Nutcracker,” Madison Ballet, Overture Center for the Arts, Overture Hall
Friday, Dec. 20, 7 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 21, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 22, 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Dec. 24, 26 and 28
Clara’s brother breaks her Christmas present, a small wooden nutcracker. She goes to bed devastated and awakens to find the toy has come to life and brought a host of magical creatures into Clara’s life. The Sugar Plum Fairies, Mouse King and a host of tin soldiers take the stage at Overture Center in Madison Ballet’s “The Nutcracker.” The lush and large-scale production includes 150 dancers and a 25-foot tree. The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra delights the audience with the classic Tchaikovsky score.

“Full Light Ballet Performance,” Play Circle, Wisconsin Union Theater
Friday, Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m.
Handel’s “Messiah” gets a graceful, modern makeover with Madison’s newest dance company, Magnum Opus. Magnum Opus has brought their art to churches, libraries, schools and theaters across south-central Wisconsin. This elite group of 10 dancers performs this visually stunning portrayal of the text from the King James Bible in “Full Light Ballet Performance” this weekend.


“Alice in Panto-Land,” Drury Stage, The Bartell Theatre
Friday, Dec. 20, 7 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 21, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 22, 2 p.m.; Dec. 27-29
Have you ever wished you could venture to Alice’s Wonderland or Peter Pan’s Neverland? Well, you can visit both at once by attending “Alice in Panto-Land” at Bartell Theatre this weekend and and the following weekend. Nick Schweitzer’s theatrical mashup has Tinker Bell is fraternizing with the Chesire Cat, pixie dust is lining The Queen of Hearts’ mushroom patches and everyone is doing the best they can do get Alice through Panto-Land. This kid-friendly production creates a magical, humorous experience. Cheering and booing is encouraged as the cast requests that you leave your maturity at the door.

“A Christmas Haunting,” Slowpoke Lounge and Cabaret, Spring Green
Friday, Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 21-22, 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Colleen Madden, an American Players Theatre Core Company actor, stars in “A Christmas Haunting,” which she adapted as a solo stage show from the lesser-known Charles Dickens novela “The Haunted Man.” Madden plays all six characters in this Two Crows There production directed by Marcus Truschinski, another APT veteran. Read Aaron R. Conklin’s preview here.


Jackie Kashian, Comedy on State
Thursday, Dec. 19, 8 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 20, 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 21, 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
Stand-up comedian and host of “The Dork Forest” podcast, Jackie Kashian comes to Comedy on State. Her new comedy album “I AM NOT THE HERO OF THIS STORY” has reached number one on iTunes/Amazon and number three on the Billboard chart. She’s performed on Conan and HBO’s “2 Dope Queens.” Kashian also co-hosts a podcast on the Nerdist Network called “The Jackie and Laurie Show.” Opening the show is Carmen Morales, a comedian and actress on Fox’s “Laughs.”


“Darren Streud’s Nutcracker Spectacular,” Majestic Theatre
Friday, Dec. 20, 7: 30 p.m.
At the Majestic on Friday night, Madison’s Darren Sterud once again presents a jazzy holiday concert, this time by performing Duke Ellington’s “The Nutcracker Suite.” This event — with intimate seating, holiday cocktails and fancy dress — will make you feel like you’re celebrating Christmas in a speakeasy. Come see Darren Sterud, his orchestra and Madison jazz singer Megan Moran.

Gerri DiMaggio, Olbrich Gardens
Sunday, Dec. 22, 2 p.m.
At Olbrich Botanical Gardens, listen to Gerri DiMaggio perform jazzy holiday and Brazilian samba music. She seamlessly blends the two genres with some of the most virtuosic musicians in the area: Paul Hastil on piano, Bob Pesselman on guitar, John Mesoloras on bass and Rich Larson on percussion.

Dana Munro is an editorial intern for Madison Magazine.